Know Your Criminal Rights in Arizona

Arrested in Arizona, or simply curious about what you can and cannot do by law? It’s wise to learn your criminal rights before someone charges you with a crime in Arizona to protect yourself from jail time and hefty fines. Taking to a criminal defense lawyer can fill you in on any specific crimes you’re worried about. In the meantime, use this list of basic criminal rights in Arizona to stay out of trouble.

The United States Constitutional Rights

Most of the criminal rights residents of Arizona have come from the U.S. Constitution, and our rights all American citizens share. Your federal constitutional rights relating to crimes and arrests include the right to freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to avoid arrest except under probable cause. You also have the right to “plead the Fifth,” or use the Fifth Amendment to stay silent until you have an attorney present.

Furthermore, the Constitution gives you the right to due process of law, a speedy trial, and trial by jury. This means that if police in Arizona arrest you and prosecutors press charges, you have a constitutional right to a proper trial, during which you’ll have the chance to defend yourself and fight the charges against you. The U.S. Constitution gives you the right to plead “not guilty” to the charges, as well as to avoid self-crimination.

You also have the right to an attorney. You don’t have to go into the courtroom alone. Even if you can’t afford a private lawyer, the courts will grant you a public defender for little or no cost. You have the right to raise defenses against criminal charges, such as the defense of improper search and seizure, or failure to read Miranda rights. Finally, you have the right to be free from “cruel and unusual” punishment, even if the courts convict you of a crime.

Arizona Constitutional Rights

You have criminal rights under the Arizona State Constitution in addition to the rights you have from the U.S. Constitution. In Arizona, it is your right to record your encounter with police officers on a smartphone or camera. You may record video and audio footage of your traffic stop an arrest. If police officers say you are interfering with an investigation by recording, politely explain that you are cooperating – you just wish to record the exchange. If police physically prevent you from executing your right to record, tell this to your defense attorney.

You also have the right to refuse a field sobriety test in Arizona. Although you cannot refuse a chemical or breathalyzer test without facing consequences, it is within your rights to refuse a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests are notoriously subjective and inaccurate. If you have an injury, for example, you may “fail” the tasks asked of you during a sobriety test. The courts cannot convict you of driving under the influence (DUI) for simply refusing to take a field test. In fact, you may have better odds of escaping a conviction without the results of a field test.

Other criminal rights in Arizona follow the U.S. Constitutional rights closely: the right to due process, to justice, to fair and dignified treatment, to protection from abuse or harassment, to refuse an interview, to defend yourself at trial, to a speedy trial, to learn of your rights, and for the courts to treat you as innocent until proven guilty. For a full breakdown of all your criminal rights under federal and state law, speak to a criminal defense attorney. A lawyer will have the information you need to protect yourself from incrimination and other common mistakes criminal defendants make in Arizona.